Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Archive for the ‘Species Extinction’ Category

Bountiful Bees Committed to Extinction

Posted by feww on March 11, 2011

Bees Baffled by Human Insanity

Mass death of bee colonies worldwide threaten biodiversity and food security: UNEP

Speaking of fouling your own doorstep. Human activity is committing nature’s insect pollinators to extinction.

A clear pattern of species extinction is forming: Plants, bees, birds, fish … How much longer do you think humans can clutch on to the disappearing straws?

Bee pollinating a flower. Photo credit: PD Photo. Click image to enlarge.


Bee colonies worldwide are under threat, with serious implications for biodiversity and food security, UNEP says.

Global Honey Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators, a new study published by UNEP, finds that multiple factors are responsible for declines in bee populations, including

  • Habitat deterioration (destruction)
  • Air pollution
  • Crop spraying (pesticides)
  • Widespread use of insecticides
  • Climate Change
  • Parasites
  • Invasive species

Tens of thousands of plant species may disappear unless conservation measures are employed, the report says.

The decline of bee populations has serious consequences for food security. Pollination is critical for flower and seed production and vital to the health of ecosystems. As many crops depend solely on pollinators for survival, the well-being of pollinating insects such as bees is critical for ensuring the availability of food for a growing global population.

Posted in Habitat deterioration, Species Extinction, Varroa mite | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More Coal, Anyone?

Posted by feww on January 31, 2011

The following article is partially reprinted on FIRE-EARTH with the kind permission of EDRO Moderators.

The Fate of Energy Dinosaurs

In a few dozen mutations spanning five generations of computers, which started in 1939 with the ABC (Atanasoff-Berry-Computer) and extended to today’s petaflop supercomputers, the computational power of digital computers has skyrocketed from a mere (!) few hundred FLOPS (Floating Point Operations Per Second), a measure of a computer’s performance, shooting through the computational thermosphere at petaflop speeds (million billion FLOPS).

ENIAC, the grotesque energy monster.

Now a museum piece, the world’s first programmable computer, Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), operated at 500 flops. The twenty-seven-ton monstrosity consisted of thirty separate subunits with 19,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, about one hundred thousand resistors, capacitors, crystal diodes and inductors and occupied 63 square meters of floor space. A 175kW power supply, which needed repairs on average every 5.6 hours, was used for feeding and forced cooling the voracious electronic dinosaur. ENIAC operated at a computational speed of 0.0029 FLOPS/Watt.

Despite what is now a laboriously slow operating speed, ENIAC was the fastest supercomputer of the time and condemned its contemporary mechanical relay computers, operating at Bell Laboratories and elsewhere, to the dustbin of history because they operated two orders of magnitude slower.

The latest supercomputers operate in the petaflop territory producing about 36giggaflops for each Watt of electricity they consume, an astounding enhancement in the computational power, rated about 13trillion times greater than ENIAC. If it were physically possible to enlarge ENIAC, enabling it to operate at petaflop speeds, it would require 348 petawatts (3.48E+17W) of electricity, or 175,000 times more electricity than is generated globally [c.f., the luminosity of Sun is 3.846E+26W.] In other words, the combined electrical output of 175,000 earthlike planets would be needed to operate the hypothetical ‘super-ENIAC’ at the current computational speeds.

The first order constraint in the evolution of artificial ‘intelligence’ is the computational power efficiency (FLOPS/Watt, or MIPS/Watt), or simply the ‘energy footprint.’ Architectures that fail to overcome the constraint are committed to extinction.

Unable to evolve, ENIAC became extinct. It could never have survived, other than as a museum piece, because of the following reasons.

1. Its computational power efficiency was outdone by faster computers.

2. If ENIAC were to be upgraded operating at improved speeds, it would have required too much power. Its energy demands on the operating environment would have been unsustainable.

Instead, the operating environment, the larger system with which ENIAC interacted, literally pulled the plug on the grotesque monster, withdrawing its life support.

This brief study may be formulated into two universal laws for evolution of artificial intelligence:

First law of evolution of artificial intelligence: To continue evolving, each successive generation of computers must improve its computational power efficiency (FLOPS/Watt, or MIPS/Watt), subject to the ultimate physical limitations.

Second law of evolution of artificial intelligence: Architectures whose growth or extensions would impose exceptional demands on energy resources become unsustainable and are committed to extinction.

The Human Comparison

What about humans? Has human intelligence evolved? Are they more intelligent now than before? Do they consume more, or less power than the previous generations? Has the human ‘computational power efficiency’ improved?

Many parallels exist between the dynamics of human intelligence and its machine ‘counterpart,’ artificial intelligence, albeit on different timelines. To survive, they both must evolve. Both humans and computers need energy to function. And therefore they both depend on their environments for life support. Artificial intelligence was designed by humans, so it could be said that humans created computers “in their own image!”

To be “targeted for selection,” humans and therefore their intelligence must continuously evolve. Human intelligence cannot evolve, unless the following conditions are satisfied.

A. The current generation must be able to perform the same or greater number of functions for less energy (operate more intelligently) compared with previous generations. In other words, each generation must achieve higher rates of computational power efficiency successively—do more with less, every time!

B. Humans energy demands including its material needs must fall within the ultimate physical boundaries imposed by nature; otherwise the environment cannot provide continued support. When their growth becomes unsustainable, humans are [unceremoniously] committed to extinction. [Historical and current evidence of regional collapses are abound.]

To test the above conditions, the current generation’s energy profile is compared with the previous generations’ consumption data. The world per capita energy consumption has risen from about 818W in 1800 to 2,435W in 2006, a 3-fold rise. The United States per capita consumption rose to 13,372W, in the same period.

Based on the evidence, the per capita human energy consumption has not decreased; therefore, the evolution of human intelligence must have stalled. In fact, it can be said that the opposite of evolution is occurring because human demands on energy is much greater now than before. Of course, it could be argued that humans now operate at higher “computational speeds.” But that is exactly the point. Like the hypothetical super-ENIAC, human technological savvy is being achieved by growing bigger, not through improved power efficiency. The rate of evolution of human intelligence, and therefore the human species, is regressing compared with the pre-industrial era. Like ENIAC, humans have degenerated into energy dinosaurs!

Let us further examine the above findings against an observation of the state of the environment, whose unintrrupted support is vital to human survival. To guarantee their survival on long-term basis, humans must exponentially decrease their energy and material demands on the environment. But is that the case? Again, the evidence suggests the opposite to be true. Human consumption is on the exponential rise and, increasingly, the environment is failing to provide support.

In 2006 global energy consumption reached a staggering total of 507EJ [one exajoule, EJ, is 10 exponential 18 joules, 10^18J] equivalent to the energy released by detonating 25,437 Hiroshima-sized A-bombs each day, 9.3 million bombs throughout the year, or one A-bomb for every 700 people on the planet.] With more than two thirds of the ecosystems driven to the verge of imminent collapse as a result of intense human activity, which demands excessive energy consumption, it would only be a matter of time before total environmental collapse occurs committing the energy dinosaurs and thousands of other species to extinction.

The key to preventing the next mass species extinction and preserving human cultures is one of creating the opportunity for humans to evolve at very low rates of energy (and material) consumption. In 2005 [an organization founded by the author] reported its findings concerning the ‘safe’ level of global energy consumption. It was determined that to minimize the environmental devastation wreaked by excessive energy consumption, humans must reduce their total energy consumption to about 60EJ/year, immediately (this level is equal to about 11.9 percent of global energy consumption in 2006).

There are a number of forced factors why instead of evolving human intelligence has regressed causing humans to degenerate into grotesque energy monsters. The main reason for the regression is the monetary gains made by the world’s overlords, whose perceived interests are served when more (NOT LESS) energy and materials are consumed. Their interests clearly fly in the face of human survival.

Related Links:

Posted in evolution of intelligence, human survival, Species Extinction, supercomputers | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Ecological Facts and Fiction

Posted by feww on November 6, 2008

Submitted by CASF Members – Edited for brevity by FEWW

Acquiring Cognizance of Ecological Reality – Part 1

Acquiring Cognizance of Ecological Reality, ACER, is the thorough understanding of how the ecosystems are faring: How poorly they are functioning, which ones are collapsing.

In short, ACER provides you with a series of yardsticks to make an informed opinion about the state of our planets ecosystems and enables you to distinguish fact from fiction.

The root of all ecological problems: Exponential growth

Exponential Growth is the root of all ecological systems failures. Earth’s resources and the ecosystems services on which life depends are finite. When the demand on natural resources nears the physical limits imposed by nature, ecosystems begin to experience stress and their functions deteriorate progressively until they collapse.

As they begin to collapse, species are committed to extinction.

The problem of exponential growth is further exacerbated by human greed: The insatiable urge to make more and more profit, forcing the mechanisms of collapse into “double exponential” territory.

The Current Economic System

The current economic system, which has an inherently violent nature, thrives on exponential growth. It transforms more and more of the planets natural resources into merchandise into waste. The mechanisms of exponential growth are unsophisticated. They demand more and more of the planets natural resources made into consumer products that must necessarily have progressively more ephemeral lives in each successive economic cycle.

The vehicle used for the maximization of monetary profits by the exponential growth consumption system is the carbon-intensive political economy.

ACER FACT # 1. ‘Green’ energy alone cannot prevent the imminent collapse of ecosystems, which is caused by exponential growth; an immediate radical transformation to ‘zero growth’ could help mitigate the looming mass extinction.

Continued …

Posted in carbon-intensive economy, Climate Change, limits to growth, Species Extinction, yardsticks | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Canaries Dying in Coal Mine

Posted by feww on October 10, 2008

Numbers of birds worldwide are dwindling

Numbers of birds worldwide are dwindling, Birdlife International reported on Thursday, a telltale sign that Governments have failed to slow damage to nature by 2010, contrary to their 2002 undertaking [so what’s new?]

Hawaiian Crow (Corvus hawaiiensis). Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Since the year 1500, we have lost over 150 bird species – an extinction rate far higher than the natural background. Today, one in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction, with 190 species Critically Endangered, and Red List assessments show that things are getting worse. Particularly alarming are sharp declines in many formerly common and widespread species. This is a signal of wider environmental problems, and of the erosion of biodiversity as a whole.” Birdlife International

Three species are believed to have become extinct since 2000, the report says:

  • The Hawaiian crow
  • Spix’s macaw in Brazil
  • Poo-uli [also in Hawaii]

The critically endangered bird species include:

  • 83 percent of albatrosses
  • 60 percent of cranes
  • 28 percent of parrots
  • 24 percent of pheasants
  • 20 percent of pigeons

Po`o-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma)
Source: USWFS/ Paul E. Baker

One of the most vital services provided by birds is controlling the populations of insect pests in farmland and forests. “Studies show that birds provide biological control services worth millions of dollars in farmlands and forests, and are encouraged in some plantations through the provision of nest-boxes.”

Indeed the use of nest-boxes not only for flycatchers but also for titmice is a fairly standard management tool in forests throughout Europe.

“Birds are a good indicator for the wider environment because we have such long records. People notice that there aren’t so many birds around, even ones that are common.” Alison Stattersfield, Birdlife International.

The Spix’s Macaw (Ara Spixii)
. The Dream: A photo montage of the last known Spix’s Macaw nest, located on the Gangorra Farm, and two Spix’s Macaws now residents of the captive breeding program at Lymington Foundation. Source: Spix’s Macaw Project

Numerous bird species have been driven extinct

Key messages and case studies

State of the world’s birds is a good report well worth browsing through!

Related Links:

Posted in Climate Change, Critically Endangered, migratory species, Species Extinction, Spix's Macaw, Waterbirds | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Species Extinction

Posted by feww on December 29, 2007

Human activity has caused a sharp decline in the number of large mammals on about 80% of Earth’s terrestrial surface!

“By examining records dating back to AD1500, US researchers found that at least 35% of mammals over 20kg had seen their range cut by more than half. ”

Chris Muiden at the Dutch language Wikipedia, the copyright holder of this work, has published this photo under the GNU Free Documentation License“.

The researchers state: “Large carnivores frequently shape the number, distribution and behavior of their prey… Large herbivores function as ecological engineers by changing the structure and species composition of surrounding vegetation.

“Furthermore, both sets of mammals profoundly influence the environment beyond direct species interactions, such as through [the food chain.]”

The “habitat generalists” including tigers, leopards, lions, American bison, elk and wolves suffered the greatest losses.

Full story…

Posted in American bison, elk, habitat destruction, habitat generalists, leopards, lions, mammals, Species Extinction, tigers, wolves | Leave a Comment »